In honor of our 100th Blog 'n' Golden posting -- should we sing "Auld Lang Syne"
for that? -- we here at One of America's Great Newspapers, Web Sites and Bottle
Shops attempt to be interactive and fan-friendly by turning over this cyberspace
to one of our readers, a taste of citizen journalism as its known today. (OK, so
in reality this is a Letter to the Editor that was too long for the ink-stained
edition, and The Bosses sent it our way.) Comments, and video evidence, to
This letter concerns Coach Tomlin's and the Steelers' front office's
reaction recently to the fake Santa at the Steelers new conference on
December 23, 2008.
While I very much admire, like, and appreciate Coach Tomlin, I must
admit to some dismay after reading about his reaction to a visiting
Santa Claus the other day at a press conference. Not only did Coach
Tomlin visibly demonstrate irritation and impatience, he was also heard
to sigh with some frequency. Was his annoyance out of frustration for
not being able to tell everyone about his approach to the lowly
Cleveland Browns, a game many see as being somewhat "meaningless"?
I must say that for this fake Santa, it was always a boast to know that
one of our legion was given access to the Steelers Christmas press
conference. Most Santas are sedate and retired and akin to the legend of
the actual St. Nicholas. There are, however, Santas in rags and bells
and holly who are mischievous and unpredictable,-- these Santas being
closer in spirit to their Wild Man, or shaman, predecessors. Either way,
these Santas mean well, even if they do decide to joke about the
Pirates, Casey Hampton, sportscasters, the Browns and the Cowboys.
Knowing that a Santa somewhere is having some fun with the Steelers
gives encouragement to all of us in these old coalfields and river towns
who listen to all of the impossible wishes of children. Knowing that a
Santa is joking around with our beloved Coach must warm the most frozen
Santa shaking bells on a Downtown street corner all December long.
But this letter does not entirely concern Coach Tomlin's, shall we say,
confusion. It concerns the fact that the Steelers' front office has
decided to cancel all future appearances by any Santa "at any of their
news conferences." Such appearances have become a tradition. This does
not seem fair.This is very blue news during a time which is
distinguished by generosity and good will. This is very blue news for
those of us visiting orphanages and hospitals, for those of us street
side who help others by collecting pennies with a bucket, for those of
us along these rivers who give their hearts over to other people.
Now, the rebuttal:
That was no Santa. That was no department-store fake. It was a sports-department fake, a media guy impersonating St. Nick -- although his face was uncovered enough so his salt-and-pepper moustache stood in high, even scary contrast to Santa's cotton beard. Bill DiFabio, owner-operator of his own locally syndicated radio network, played this same jolly old role a couple of times in Bill Cowher's tenure, and you talk about a coach's irritation, annoyance and impatience. Santa stayed away last Christmas, but with Mike Tomlin's approval made an appearance this time for the coach's second Christmas. And what an appearance: roughly seven minutes long, early -- instead of the end -- in the coach's pre-Browns news conference. The bit was a bit too long where one minute would have sufficed. And Tomlin was a good sport for enduring. Nice catch on a quick, short throw, too. Given how the game turned out, it was a good thing the coach didn't get hurt and have to be carried out on a stretcher, huh? BTW: Dan Rooney is no scrooge; there has been no official pronouncement banning Santa, Hanukkah Harry or any such festive display from Steelers HQ.